Post No.: 0485
It’s not self-indulgent or a burden on others to talk about your feelings when it regards your mental health. In fact, those who think it’s self-indulgent or a burden on others are far more likely to be the ones who haven’t talked about their own feelings enough. It’s a self-stigma.
People can particularly stigmatise and hold beliefs that men shouldn’t talk about their own feelings to others and must always portray an image of strength at all times. Furrywisepuppy discussed this issue in Post No.: 0146. Men also have a tendency to try to rationalise why they’re feeling the way they feel – they want a justification, a reason, and an answer or solution. But the real solutions are seldom quick-fix, and short-term solutions, such as alcohol to try to drown out one’s feelings, usually make things worse in the long-term.
The healthiest answer is actually being more mindful of one’s emotions, talking about one’s concerns, and non-aggressively and thoroughly getting things off one’s chest with someone who has an actively listening ear. We stand less chance of truly moving on until we’ve gotten some things off our chests and removed some of the burden we’ve placed on ourselves for not sharing the heavy thoughts that bear on our minds.
Humans aren’t supposed to feel happy or invulnerable all of the time. It’s not a failure to feel sad or vulnerable – so feel sad and share your emotions, guilt-free, on those days you feel sad. Don’t suppress them otherwise they might eventually pile up towards a breaking point. It’s healthier for you and for those around you to release the pressure in small and regular ways rather than let pressures build until it must release in a big, violent or destructive way. It therefore helps for everyone to ask about and let other people talk about and share their stresses in appropriate times and places, such as during the conversations we have about ‘how was your day?’ after school or work.
It also seems taboo to talk about suicide, even though suicide is currently the biggest killer of men under 50 in Britain; accounting for 1/5th of all male deaths under 45. We must be more open to talking about suicide yet stay away from forums that encourage it. The forums that are okay are supportive of life or are at least listening neutrally. (Some who, on certain social media platforms, goad others on to take their own lives and/or share ideas on how to do so claim that their intention is to support vulnerable people because they believe that death is their only escape from the pain they feel, but they’re not usually in a mentally fit state themselves, or in a qualified position, to advise.)
For women, postnatal depression is reasonably common, and around this time may pose the greatest risk for suicide for women. Therefore maternal and mental health care should go together – this is for the sake of the child too, both physically and mentally, as well as for the mother-infant relationship. Like there’s a ‘toxic masculinity’ for men, where men aren’t supposed to talk about their feelings or externally show vulnerability – some argue that there’s a ‘toxic femininity’ for women too, where women are meant to be passive, patient and nurturing towards others at the expense of their own mental or physical needs, which come last.
Many women experience mood disorders associated with their menstrual cycle as a result of the fluctuations in hormone levels (e.g. oestrogen) they encounter. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is an even more serious mood disorder than premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and is characterised by depressive symptoms that occur in the week or two before each period starts, as certain hormone levels start to fall after ovulation.
‘Matrescence’ is like adolescence but describes the developmental transition from a woman into a mother rather than a child into an adult – and it probably needs more awareness because, like adolescence, pregnancy brings a lot of hormonal and physical changes to a woman that can affect their fluffy emotions and mental health. For example, some pregnant women develop pica, which is an eating disorder involving cravings of non-food items. What’s craved is individual but can be toxic items, which will therefore negatively affect their physical and in turn mental health. I guess we shouldn’t always listen to what our bodies want then.
Although it’s far less common, fathers can also experience postnatal depression too. And the transition from a man into a father can be an uncertain and stressful time too.
Around the menopause is also a time when women face an increased risk of mental health problems – this demonstrates again how physical changes, like hormonal changes, will result in mental changes because there’s no true separation between the physical and mental world. It also demonstrates the need for both women and men to learn more about what happens during puberty, periods, pregnancy, the menopause and other life stages, instead of being surprised at other people’s changes of behaviours or labelling them as ‘mad’ or similar for not understanding what they’re possibly going through. The more properly educated we are, the more understanding and empathy we’ll have, and the less inclined we’ll be to call people names than run them a nice hot bath, for we’ll know, or can suspect, what is going on behind the scenes – there are legitimate causal reasons for everything and it’s down to everybody to learn about them.
There’s also a stigma towards women over 35 who don’t have children (yet). Insensitive people speak about their own narrow understandings of different lives though, especially because there are many different and good reasons why a woman’s (or man’s) life is the way it is that are the opposite of being selfish. (For one, although we need to be careful about creating a large generational imbalance, the planet isn’t asking for more humans, and no one should have children unless they’re ready to because it’s like a cat or dog is for life, not just for Christmas – meow.)
In some cultures, there’s even a stigma against allowing other people or a ‘nanny state’ to tell us what to do, even if they’re things like to safely store firearms or lock up medications in case someone in the household might use them to commit suicide. It’s strange the things people can stigmatise for the sake of public image or social comparisons.
The incarcerated are a particularly high-risk group. Mental health problems can develop or existing mental health problems can become exacerbated due to overcrowding and a lack of privacy or alternatively enforced isolation and loneliness, the fear of violence in prisons, feeling insecure about one’s future prospects, boredom, a lack of mental health services in prisons, and the stigma of being a prisoner itself. Rates of suicide in prisons are high in most countries. In some countries, prisons are used as dumping grounds for people with mental disorders because mental healthcare provision is overall poor in those countries. It’s therefore worth it in the bigger picture for inmates, prison staff and for communities to respond to the mental health needs of inmates.
People who have a gender identity other than cisgender and/or a sexual identity other than heterosexual are more likely to experience mental health problems too. This could be at least partially down to cultural reasons such as discrimination. Ethnic minority members of a country tend to regularly face discrimination too and this is an environmental stressor that affects multiple areas of their lives, such as their job prospects and number of true friends they have, and thus increases the risk of mental health problems for these individuals.
There’s seldom just a single factor that causes suicide. It’s a complex combination of factors that lead to a person feeling entrapped with no other (perceived) option. It’s not a selfish decision or act – in fact, many people attempt suicide because they feel that it will relieve the burden they think they place on others. They feel like they’re useless, worthless and an utter burden on others for being alive. They think everyone will be better off without them, or that nobody cares anyway. They may even think they are or will be a burden on professional healthcare services, or believe there’s no hope at all regardless of who tries to help them; or they might not even have sufficient healthcare insurance in countries that mainly have a private healthcare system.
So most people whom commit suicide do so not for self-centred reasons but because they feel like a burden on others, or are made to feel like a burden, hence it’s erroneous to judge those who attempt suicide as being self-serving (arguably apart from maybe ideologically-motivated suicide bombers – who we haven’t been talking about or including here in this post at all. These people have been indoctrinated, so I guess the only parallel is those social media forums that encourage suicide).
Precisely zero people with unipolar depression who attempt or commit suicide (without indoctrination) do so with delight. They’re not rubbing their hands with glee in anticipation of what they think they’re going to personally selfishly gain from killing themselves. It’s a sad feeling for them but they believe they’re doing everyone else a favour.
They tend to look for quiet places or otherwise private moments to commit suicide because these people are the opposite of attention seekers. Despite this video-posting modern social media world, it’s only in a relatively few isolated cases (i.e. it’s not representative of the norm) when people have publicised or recorded their actual suicide attempts or even intentions. And movies again are terrible when they over-represent people ‘standing on the edge of a building, gathering an audience and causing a scene’! The overwhelming majority don’t want to hurt anyone else at all. (Some may even gradually cut their friends out of their life so that these old friends will not really miss them or even notice when they disappear. Of course this is much more difficult to do with family.) The lack of attention seeking is probably why most people wouldn’t guess that suicide is such a common killer if they weren’t aware of the statistics.
So again it’s not a selfish decision. Or if you still think it is then you’re possibly being selfish, as if other people must do as you wish otherwise they’re being selfish(!) Everyone who knowingly risks the longevity of their own life is therefore being selfishly suicidal too, including those who regularly drink alcohol, drive too fast, eat junk or don’t exercise. It hurts those who’d be left behind for sure but no one commits suicide unless they’re in severe pain and anguish themselves. That should be patently obvious. So maybe the truly selfish people are those who fail to help ease the pain of sufferers enough?.. As you can therefore see, arguing on the basis of selfishness can backfire. Do tell a vulnerable person that you care about them and that you’d feel hurt if they took their own life – but if you try to go on the offensive by blaming them for thinking about taking their own life then that can ironically push them over the edge for making them definitely feel useless and a burden on others. It’ll also make them feel like they’re not being understood and in turn ever more alone in this world.
If suicide and suicidal thoughts are taboo then we must actually all talk about them more, as sensible and open individuals, in order to make these things less as things that people must deal with in darkness and isolation. Also, if/when people open up more about their feelings, they’ll realise that they’re hardly the only ones feeling so down right now. They’re not a burden on anyone. They’re in good company. There are people who’ll totally understand them. And they shouldn’t feel alone because they’re not.